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James L. Fidelholtz

Published onApr 19, 2019
James L. Fidelholtz

Tribute to Noam

Noam, your genius has been the guiding light (in my case first interpreted by Morris Halle in the first class of the new graduate program in 1961 {me just an übergruntled undergraduate junior}, along with the “new” grad students, all reading Syntactic Structures with Morris’s clear explanations) for generations now. I will leave the praises for your political writings to those more suitable to comment on them, although their clear, and for me convincing, “neoanarchistic” approach, appeals strongly to my basically “Pinko Commie wise guy” political philosophy, as some structuralist commentator might have styled it back then. But clearly your writings on linguistics (especially Syntactic Structures, SPE, and Aspects, to mention just the most well-known basic works) have been fundamental for the development of our field in the decades since then. Like the other students in that formative class, I also read, reproduced and distributed other works of yours in those early years, and we (hopefully) continue to build on that analytical base set by you and Morris, as well as your colleagues and those many students in that “first class” of Morris’s (and soon thereafter in your own class), which I was so fortunate, dazzled and, yes, instructed by in those long ago, fondly remembered times.

Have a very happy birthday, but remember: you’re only 90% of the way to that memorable Polish milestone: sto lat, which we all wish for you to surpass as well.

Jim Fidelholtz (still your student after all these years)

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